took to world record-breaking in
2004 after being inspired by a record-setting rally
driver in Kenya. What began as a hobby soon escalated
into an active publicity pursuit. Today, he promotes the
work of social and environmental causes. For these
purposes, the most fitting game plans are chosen; then
world titles are attempted and frequently created.
Wall Street Journal:
Shaking On It in Times Square
If you would like regular exposure from Alastair's activities, become his Sustaining Sponsor:
- A range of attempts annually
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Behind every world record attempt is the expertise of professionals in their field.
Their success underpins Alastair's.
|They are listed here|
Most snails on the face: 8
This is the story behind my Guinness World Record™ for the Most snails on the face.
Would you put snails on your face? Since I grew
up with wildlife in southern Africa, I didn't mind in the least. When
taking safari tours for visitors to wilderness areas, it was common for
us guides to put dung to our nose and tongue to assist with tracking
some of the larger game. So what's squeamish about a few snails
crawling and pooing all over my face? Nothing, as far as I am
concerned. But media thought differently. Perhaps that's because so
much of the world population lives in cities where contact with nature
I was taken to a large shopping mall. Amidst a
display featuring world record books, I laid out my gear: a plate I
grabbed from my crockery rack, one of my kitchen towels and some toilet
paper. Carefully, I placed my new restless buddies – an empty ice cream
container of common garden snails - alongside the plate. They probably
didn't have a clue how famous they were about to become.
An announcer began inviting shoppers to watch
what I'd do with these snails. Youth gathered, and I saw a few video
cameras from radio stations focused on my preparations. I was ready,
but waiting for others gave the snails ample opportunity to try to
escape. As each crawled to the edge of the opened container, I had the
repetitive job of plucking it off the plastic rim and returning it to
the leaves my friend and I had placed in there when collecting the
little creatures. My thoughts drifted to the efforts we'd gone to when
hunting for suitable snails.
As is so common, when you want something urgently
you can't find it. But when you don't need that particular item, you
see it everywhere. Some consider garden snails a pest in New Zealand,
but finding more than one or two when I needed them proved a
time-consuming task. For weeks, I searched the local parks, friends'
gardens, along road verges and around vacant plots. At least a dozen
people were keeping an eye out for me. Then, an elderly friend peeped
behind a cluster of succulents one day and found a colony. I was there
in a flash because the world record attempt date was imminent. Together
we rounded up a few dozen snails of all sizes, punctured the container
and included some of the moist turgid leaves. My retired friend was
rather concerned about their safety, telling me these snails were her
companions. I therefore needed to handle them with extra love and care,
as I was doing in the shopping mall while waiting for the preparations
to be completed.
The others were ready.
Glancing over the rules
again, I made myself comfortable in the chair and transferred each
snail onto my dinner plate. Bystanders exclaimed but I continued. The
countdown began and I methodically applied one wriggling snail foot at
a time to my face. Quicker than I thought, they slithered in all
directions and were soon drawing my hair under their muscled sucking
pads. I craned my neck to try and direct their movement but felt them
attempting to dig themselves into the corners of both my tightly closed
eyes, burrow into my pursed lips and probe up my nostrils with their
instructed me to stop applying
snails since the allotted time had passed. I had to remain in position
for 10 seconds for the attempt to qualify. Sitting perfectly still, I
could feel the snails constantly sucking with and sliding their
muscular bodies along. Some fell to the table, but had a soft landing
in my purposefully placed dish towel. Very quickly it was time to
gently remove the remaining little ones. By this time, spectators were
repeatedly groaning out of disgust, taking photos of all this. But
their clicks and flashes went off constantly when I turned for the
first media interview: a semi-transparent yellowing layer was beginning
to cake in patches on my cheeks and eyelids, much like smeared egg
yolk. I peeled one eye fully open and removed a blob of congealed slime
from blocking my view, smiling. Remembering not to lick my lips, I
responded to the question I was anticipating, “So, Alastair, how does
it feel?” When I heard an exclamation about there being pearls of dark
sticky poo strewn across my face, others – including media - rushed to
see. I stood there politely until the interest in my head dissipated,
after which I needed to pay more care to the snails.
The same day, I released the snails near a stream
at my elderly friend's request. Standing in the open by myself, I
thought how peaceful it was outdoors, away from the hustle of the
shopping mall and journalists. Then the big media hit.
A contract photographer wanted photos for a press
agency. He and I spent more than an hour replicating the event, and I
pulled more funny faces for him than I had in a very long time. Soon,
National Geographic Kids magazine had bought a selection and I featured
in one of their chosen world record columns. Children the world over
would have seen that story, and it wasn't long before I had
challengers. That magazine aside, the news was translated into a
handful of languages and spread fast in entertainment news outlets. In
New Zealand, radio and TV covered the event over the next couple of
weeks. In quick succession, my successful world record was beaten in
the UK, Australia and the USA. Each time, news coverage was high, as it
had been for my own attempt.
These days, when journalists write articles on my
world records, they often single out this one in their profile of me. I
can't see what all the fuss is about, but if it sells their writings,
that's lovely. This world record has also given me somewhat of a
reputation. I've become known, rather unimpressively, as “the man who
puts snails on his face”.
Oh, and I should mention that I still use the
dish towel and plate I took with me to break this world record.
Unbeknown to them, some of my guests have since eaten off that plate.